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Old 12-02-2020, 07:04 PM   #21
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Certainly buying from a local roaster gives you very freshly roasted beans. When I gave up coffee roasting because of full time RVing, we sought out local roasters to buy coffee as we traveled. That was fun and we bought good coffee. It's not under $6 a pound though!

We found one near Missoula Montana that we liked so much that we ended up ordering from them for a long time. Hunter Bay. Their Moose Drool (in honor of Big Sky Brewing) and Expedition Blends were great favorites of ours - dark, smooth, chocolaty.
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Old 12-02-2020, 08:12 PM   #22
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I’ve been roasting beans at home for about the last 4 years, started with a Whirley popcorn popper then purchased a Behmor. I was able to roast ~1/2 lb at a time using the Whirley, that would last me a few days, it’s a good way to start out. I have a good exhaust fan (to the outside) above my stove so just set the Behmor on the stove top and roast there, still get some smoke/smell but most gets exhausted. Even with a dedicated roaster like a Behmor it still requires a lot of interation when roasting, it’s not a simple put the beans in, turn the machine on, and come back in 30 minutes operation.

I’ve been buying green beans from Bodhi Leaf, shipping is free for orders over $59 and they regularly email discount offers. I’ve purchased different green beans in the $6/lb range and haven’t been disappointed yet. Green beans will last a long time if stored properly so I don’t have an issue buying 10 lbs or more at a time. Agree with the other home roasters, there's no comparison between home roasted and store bought beans.
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Old 12-02-2020, 08:49 PM   #23
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I've been roasting coffee 9 years. I had been using a Behmor but mine started having some issues so I bought a Fresh Roast 800 to replace it. It only does 1/2 a pound at a time but it goes a little faster so it doesn't take me that much longer to roast the pound I need to get me through a week.

I've been buying beans from Sweet Marias. If I was willing to drive into the nearest city I could buy my green beans there, but it seems like the time and gas aren't worth it, especially since I'm pretty happy with the quality from Sweet Marias.
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Old 12-04-2020, 11:44 AM   #24
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Thanks kevink and Imthinking2019.

I'll probably never roast my own beans but it might be worthwhile to find a good local source. I currently buy whole beans from Costco and keep them in the freezer but if that can be improved I'm all for it.
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Old 12-04-2020, 12:18 PM   #25
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Thanks kevink and Imthinking2019.

I'll probably never roast my own beans but it might be worthwhile to find a good local source. I currently buy whole beans from Costco and keep them in the freezer but if that can be improved I'm all for it.
That's what I'm thinking too. I am looking for good coffee but not a new project. None of the solutions seem to be as automated as making bread in a dedicated machine.
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Why Is Italian Coffee Better?
Old 12-05-2020, 02:37 PM   #26
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Why Is Italian Coffee Better?

OK kevink, I can't figure it out. I have a IMHO 'decent' coffee setup, fresh Peets beans, burr grinder, and DeLonghe espresso machine, Nespresso frother. Makes great coffee says me, my wife & friends. But I was amazed in 2019 (when one could still travel) that the coffee in Italy, even at small nondescript places, was better than what I make. Do they add narcotics? I asked a few barristas but they just said they just make coffee, no special deal.
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Old 12-05-2020, 02:49 PM   #27
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that the coffee in Italy, even at small nondescript places, was better than what I make.
A fair question.
Personally, I think the fact that those hugely expensive machines that make magnificent coffee are mostly made in Italy is a clue. Somehow the Italians just have this figured out.
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Old 12-05-2020, 04:27 PM   #28
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OK kevink, I can't figure it out. I have a IMHO 'decent' coffee setup, fresh Peets beans, burr grinder, and DeLonghe espresso machine, Nespresso frother. Makes great coffee says me, my wife & friends. But I was amazed in 2019 (when one could still travel) that the coffee in Italy, even at small nondescript places, was better than what I make. Do they add narcotics? I asked a few barristas but they just said they just make coffee, no special deal.
Order some Italian espresso roast beans like Illy Cafe and try those.
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Old 12-05-2020, 06:45 PM   #29
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OK kevink, I can't figure it out. I have a IMHO 'decent' coffee setup, fresh Peets beans, burr grinder, and DeLonghe espresso machine, Nespresso frother. Makes great coffee says me, my wife & friends. But I was amazed in 2019 (when one could still travel) that the coffee in Italy, even at small nondescript places, was better than what I make. Do they add narcotics? I asked a few barristas but they just said they just make coffee, no special deal.


I had an uncle in Venezuela years ago. He thought American coffee was tea. When asked who bought the best beans he said the order was Germans, Italians and French, most everybody else except for Americans. For Americans he made a motion like a man sweeping the floor and picking the crud up with a dust pan.
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Old 12-06-2020, 10:21 AM   #30
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OK kevink, I can't figure it out. I have a IMHO 'decent' coffee setup, fresh Peets beans, burr grinder, and DeLonghe espresso machine, Nespresso frother. Makes great coffee says me, my wife & friends. But I was amazed in 2019 (when one could still travel) that the coffee in Italy, even at small nondescript places, was better than what I make. Do they add narcotics? I asked a few barristas but they just said they just make coffee, no special deal.
It's important to make a distinction between the quality of the preparation and the inherent quality of the coffee used. Italians are of course masters of espresso and cappuccino making. It's a lot easier when every drink is "for here" (as opposed to "to go"), brewed directly into a warm demitasse or cappuccino cup and of the correct (much smaller than in the U.S.) size.

Italian espresso blends are in general made from quite mediocre beans but they do tend to be freshly-roasted and equally important MODERATELY roasted, rather than incinerated (Peet's) or barely-roasted lemon juice (most hipster coffee bars, Folgers). And Italian coffee - espresso or cappuccino - is also invariably drunk with a hefty spoonful of sugar added, which counteracts bitterness.

It's also true, as others have pointed out here, that real espresso requires a machine costing thousands of dollars, a doser-grinder costing hundreds and substantial training. Italians know better than to attempt such coffee at home. They drink espresso at the corner coffee bar and just have "caffè" at home: black coffee made in a humble aluminum or (occasionally) stainless steel stovetop maker that's strong but certainly not espresso. But the bottom line is espresso was created to optimize the quality of mediocre coffee and to brew coffee quickly and freshly for large numbers of people. It's not a brewing method for coffee connoisseurs (you're far better off with a vacuum pot, Aeropress, Clever Dripper or excellent home electric drip maker such as a Bonavita, Behmor or Technivorm if your interest is in actually tasting the nuances of a great coffee).
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Old 12-06-2020, 10:35 AM   #31
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I'm learning a lot about coffee from this thread. Thanks!!

Off topic from roasting, do the coffee experts have any tips for the non-roasters on how to make better coffee? I assume that everything starts with good beans, but what about the other factors? I use a good burr grinder, a drip machine, and reverse osmosis water. How fine or coarse should I grind? Should I use the regular or strong setting on the coffee maker? Is there anything else I can do to make better coffee?
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Old 12-06-2020, 11:15 AM   #32
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I'm learning a lot about coffee from this thread. Thanks!!

Off topic from roasting, do the coffee experts have any tips for the non-roasters on how to make better coffee? I assume that everything starts with good beans, but what about the other factors? I use a good burr grinder, a drip machine, and reverse osmosis water. How fine or coarse should I grind? Should I use the regular or strong setting on the coffee maker? Is there anything else I can do to make better coffee?
Hi Music Lover,

Others I'm sure will chime in but let me tell you what has worked for us.

Just for background, we used to make automatic drip coffee that went into an insulated carafe. And we used a blade grinder.

When I first tried fresh roasted beans, the coffee was made in a french press. Water quality, water temperature, steeping time, and grind size were all controlled. It was like night and day compared to any coffee I had ever had.

I did try making french press at home but it was a hassle. That's how we learned about an Aeropress which comes very close to making french press quality. Especially with a resuable stainless filter. Cleanup is a snap.

Control of water temperature also is critical. We use 185F.

The other thing that has made a huge difference for us is going to a high quality burr grinder - the Lido 2. I learned about this grinder from reading espresso forums where they said "if you buy an espresso machine, plan to spend just as much on a grinder. That's how critical the grind is." Of course it took some time before I got used to the idea of spending $200 on a hand grinder. But what a difference it made. The Lido 2 uses high precision burrs mounted in such a way as to get a precise grind. Once we bought this grinder our coffee was much better.

Re water quality, we used to have RO water at our old house. I ended up liking some store bought spring water better, interestingly. We would buy it for a treat.

Hope this helps!
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Old 12-06-2020, 11:44 AM   #33
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It's important to make a distinction between the quality of the preparation and the inherent quality of the coffee used. Italians are of course masters of espresso and cappuccino making. It's a lot easier when every drink is "for here" (as opposed to "to go"), brewed directly into a warm demitasse or cappuccino cup and of the correct (much smaller than in the U.S.) size.

Italian espresso blends are in general made from quite mediocre beans
<snip>
And Italian coffee - espresso or cappuccino - is also invariably drunk with a hefty spoonful of sugar added, which counteracts bitterness.
Quite right. I remember buying a bag of Lavazza and noticing that it was made from Robusta beans not the supposedly higher quality Arabica beans that coffee makers often brag about. There are literally dozens of type of coffee beans. The above two are simply the most popular.

I was amazed on my first trip to Italy to see grown men shoveling huge amounts of sugar into their tiny espresso cups. It looked like they were making coffee syrup! I had assumed real men drank their espresso plain, one-shot and down it goes. I cast aside my macho American faulty thinking and started adding maybe a 1/2 tsp to my espresso. Just to fit in, you understand.
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Old 12-06-2020, 11:48 AM   #34
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The other thing that has made a huge difference for us is going to a high quality burr grinder - the Lido 2. I learned about this grinder from reading espresso forums where they said "if you buy an espresso machine, plan to spend just as much on a grinder. That's how critical the grind is." Of course it took some time before I got used to the idea of spending $200 on a hand grinder. But what a difference it made. The Lido 2 uses high precision burrs mounted in such a way as to get a precise grind. Once we bought this grinder our coffee was much better.
+1 on the grinder.

I read an article in Atlantic magazine by Korby Kummer several years ago. He made it quite clear that the #1 first thing to do to get better coffee was not to buy a new coffee making machine, but first buy a good burr grinder. The guy was right. I was amazed at the difference between my blade grinder and the burr grinder.

I am also quite jealous of Mr. KK who made a living running around the world, eating and drinking exquisite foods, and writing long winded stories about his experiences.
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Old 12-06-2020, 12:02 PM   #35
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I did try making french press at home but it was a hassle. That's how we learned about an Aeropress which comes very close to making french press quality. Especially with a resuable stainless filter. Cleanup is a snap.
I've been using the Aeropress for over 10 years, don't need to spend a lot of money on a coffee maker to make a great cup of coffee.
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Old 12-06-2020, 11:29 PM   #36
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In answer to several requests. This makes no pretense to being comprehensive but I hope it helps. Thanks to the OP and everyone who has posted here for a great thread! And apologies in advance for my excessive coffee geekiness.

Essential Coffee Information


Buying and Storage

Coffee remains fresh for up to a year in green (unroasted) form but once roasted is at its best for only about two weeks. When properly packaged in vacuum-sealed one-way valve bags such as those used by Starbucks and Peet’s, coffee remains at peak freshness for up to three months from roast date.

In order to enjoy your coffee at peak flavor buy only what you’ll use within a week in whole bean form and keep in in a cool, dark place such as a cupboard or countertop. If you need to keep coffee for longer, store it in the smallest practical airtight container in the freezer and don’t let it thaw when using - just grind frozen beans. Whole beans stored in this manner will remain delicious for a couple of months or more. 


Ground coffee is stale within 24 hours so investing in a home grinder is essential. Blade grinders in the $25 range from companies like Bodum and Krups are fine for most purposes, while a burr grinder (decent ones start at around $70) will give you a difference you can taste in consistency and clarity of flavor.

Where to Buy Coffee

For good-not-great coffee at a great price Costco is the way to go - provided you can either share coffee with friends or have ample freezer space since the packages are so large. Current best choice is their Kirkland Guatemalan whole bean. Some more exotic coffees on costco.com. Coffee from independent local roasters can range from awful to transcendent.


Brewing

Water: West Coast and Midwestern tap water is hard (high in mineral content) so it’s essential to use filtered or bottled water for coffee and tea brewing. Water from self-service machines such as Glacier is likely to be the most cost-effective solution for most consumers and works well for coffee and tea. Pitcher-type and faucet-mount filters just remove some sediment, chlorine and off tastes and odors but don’t take out any minerals (with the exception of the Zero filter) while sophisticated reverse osmosis (RO) systems remove everything from the water which also doesn’t make for good-tasting coffee.

Water temperature for brewing should be 195-205 degrees F. The boiling temperature of water decreases 2 degrees for every 1000 foot gain in altitude so at higher altitudes (e.g. Denver, ski towns) the only way to get the water hot enough is to boil it in a kettle and brew by hand, use a Behmor Brazen or a vacuum pot. Contact tine between grounds and water should be 4-6 minutes. Typical Braun, Krups, Black & Decker, etc. drip brewers take twice that long and should be thrown out,

Proportion: use 60-70 grams per liter or 2+ ounces of beans per quart. This translates into one Standard Coffee Measure (2 Tablespoons) of beans or grounds for every six ounces of water (6 rather than 8 ounces because a coffee “cup” is based on fine dining china not the giant mugs many use today). In simple volumetric terms this is about an 8 oz. measuring cup of beans (the capacity of most blade grinders) per 1 qt. pot.

Most consumers use far less coffee than this at too fine a grind which results in bitter, over-extracted coffee.

Grind: the finer the grind, the briefer the contact time between grounds and water. Espresso coffee in our bars is very finely ground - nearly a powder- but brew time is less than 30 seconds. 

For pour-over and electric drip brewers use a medium grind (about the consistency of coarse sea salt) - about 20 seconds in a blade grinder.

For the Aeropress (see below) a finer grind - finer than fine sea salt - about 30 seconds in a burr grinder - is ideal. And for the French Press (aka Plunger Pot) a coarse “perc” grind - about 12 seconds in a burr grinder - is ideal.

Recommended Coffee Makers

All of these brewers can usually be purchased at Amazon.

Aeropress: this nifty brewer is the most versatile home coffee maker you can own. It can make excellent espresso-strength coffee for a cappuccino or caffe latte, superb drip-strength coffee and fits into a small travel pouch for your next road trip. Once you have boiling water available you can brew up to 4 cups of coffee in less than a minute and clean-up is a snap.

If you’d like to make espresso drinks with it at home, buy an Aeromoo milk frother when you buy your Aeropress. The complete set-up will cost you less than $60 - a tiny fraction of the $2000+ you’d have to spend for a decent home espresso machine plus the required doser-grinder to go with it.

Clever Dripper: If you like the clean cup and no muss/no fuss of drip coffee and drink 18 ounces or less this is your ticket. The Clever combines the full immersion extraction of a French Press with the sediment-free cup only paper filters deliver. Very easy to use. It comes in two sizes but I recommend the large (18) oz. one since the small brews only one small mug.

Bodum Pourover (1 liter size): For only $15-20 you get a beautiful borosilicate glass carafe and sophisticated permanent filter. For a couple or small family who drinks 24-32 ounces of coffee at a time this is probably the ideal (and certainly the least expensive) choice.

French Press (plunger pot): This is cowboy coffee for grownups. Coarsely-ground coffee is steeped in boiling water for 4 minutes, then a filter disk is gently plunged through it yielding a rich cup full of natural coffee oils. 

The classic Bodum French press yields a thick cup that in addition to the aforementioned oils will also contain a bit of fine rounds and sediment, while the patented Espro Press pot (available in sizes ranging from a commuter mug to a liter), while more expensive, yields a piping hot (it’s made from double-walled stainless steel instead of glass), sludge-free (due to its sophisticated filters) cup that has revolutionized French Press brewing. It’s well worth the investment.

Electric Drip: the Behmor Brazen Plus ($159 from Willoughby’s Coffee) is the only home electric drip brewer that can be calibrated for altitude and is my first choice. Less expensive and still excellent are the Bonavita home brewers, available in two sizes for $80-105 from Amazon. Other good options are reviewed in this recent article:

https://www.cnet.com/news/the-best-c...inja-and-more/
Recommended Grinders

Bodum Burr Grinder: * Probably the best of the $20-30 entry-level grinders but others from brands such as Krups and Mr. Coffee are also fine. Nowhere near as even in grind as a burr grinder (shaking gently while grinding helps some in that regard) but grinding just before brewing - even with just a humble blade grinder - is the most important thing you can do to enjoy great coffee at home besides buying fresh beans, using the right amount and using good water.

Capresso Infinity: At $99 it’s the least-expensive burr grinder I can fully endorse and will work wonderfully for any brewing method other than commercial espresso. If you”re willing to spend more the Baratza Virtuoso will last you a lifetime.

Learning More

The home roasting supply site sweetmarias.com is a virtual coffee university with extensive, updated information on all sorts of brewing and grinding equipment.
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Old 12-08-2020, 08:40 AM   #37
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Where to Buy Coffee

For good-not-great coffee at a great price Costco is the way to go - provided you can either share coffee with friends or have ample freezer space since the packages are so large. Current best choice is their Kirkland Guatemalan whole bean. Some more exotic coffees on costco.com. Coffee from independent local roasters can range from awful to transcendent.
I'll give that one a try. We have a good size freezer and I'm currently using a half/half mix of Kirkland medium Arabica and Starbucks dark roast, both purchased at Costco.
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Old 12-24-2020, 01:02 PM   #38
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i have been roasting my own beans for almost 20 years. I do not do it ( and no one should) to save $$. A good roaster is hundreds of dollars. I have had 3 roasters - 2 of which i still use - so they will last a long time,


I buy my beans from Burmans coffee - way cheaper than marias and just as good IMHO. I Bought Marias for years BTW.



I usually roast my beans into second crack - around 30 seconds, but some beans are better a little lighter than that. I usually roast 2 kinds of beans at least, and mix them . I like a good Indian/african/indonesian bean roasted dark, mixed with a cleaner sharper central/south american bean.
BTW, you can get beans from many countries - some of my favorites are Mexican - probably the best cup i have had from my own beans was an expensive (20$/lb Green) hawaiian.

I bought some puerto rican beans years ago (before the Hurricane!) that were absolutely outstanding. Havent seen any of them in a long time....pity
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